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Street-based sex work has officially been decriminalised in Victoria after decades of activism.
Decriminalising street-based sex work represents the first phase of the new laws, with the second phase of decriminalisation taking place next year.
From now on, street-based sex work will only be illegal if carried out in front of schools, places of worship, and care facilities between 6 am-7 pm and on public holidays.
MP of the Reason Party and long-time advocate for sex worker rights Fiona Patterns said via Twitter that legalisation will make those in the industry feel safer while removing the stigma.
“From today, sex workers will start being treated like everyone else,” she wrote.
From today, sex workers will start being treated like everyone else.— Fiona Patten MP (@FionaPattenMLC) May 10, 2022
They’ll be given better protections from discrimination, lighter restrictions on how they can advertise, & street based sex work will no longer be a criminal offence in most places. #springst 🧵 pic.twitter.com/RaAZfrb6RG
“They’ll be given better protections from discrimination, lighter restrictions on how they can advertise, and street based sex work will no longer be a criminal offence in most places.
“From today, sex work will be treated like any other occupation — as it should be.”
Ms Pattern also told the Guardian that research shows that legalising sex work doesn’t increase it, but enables workers to feel safer while operating under the legal framework.
Consumer Affairs Minister Melissa Horne said to 9News that the move was ‘an important milestone for sex work decriminalisation in Victoria’.
Meanwhile, workplace safety minister Ingrid Stitt shared that the new laws will also allow for sex work to be carefully monitored should incidents of sexual violence arise, according to The Guardian.
She said: “With a dedicated sex work safety team within WorkSafe, we’ll make sure sex work is regulated appropriately, with the best guidance and procedures in place to keep workers safe.”
Victoria is the third state in Australia to decriminalise sex work after New South Wales did so in 1995 and the Northern Territory in 2019.
The decision to legalise all areas of sex work was the first announced in September 2021, following a six-month inquiry reviewing the regulations around the industry.
The inquiry led by Fiona Pattern and her party, marked the first time in more than 30 years Victoria has reviewed the regulations governing the sex industry.
After the leader of the Reason Party submitted her recommendations to the State Government, they began their own review into sex-work regulations in Victoria.